UPDATED: Despite Bipartisan Call, Severance Tax Remains Unlikely

Legislators from both chambers and both sides of the aisle gathered today to call for a Marcellus shale severance tax that will fund education.

“With the budget crisis that we are having, it sometimes has the impact of over standing a broader issue that is of equal concern to all of us and every member and every citizen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” noted Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia). “Our schools are not funded the way they need to be and our education system is faltering.”

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014/Author: The PLS Reporter
Categories: News and Views

Education Funding Formula Bills Clear Senate Committee

The Senate Education Committee unanimously passed to the full Senate two bills which could have effects on education funding in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 1316 by Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) would provide for changes to Pennsylvania’s special education funding formula in conformity with the recommendations of the Special Education Funding Formula Commission established under Act 3 of 2013.

House Bill 1738 by Rep. Bernie O'Neill (R-Bucks) would provide for a Basic Education Funding Formula Commission similar to that of Act 3. 

READ MORE to find out how the House and Senate are cooperating on changing the special education funding formula and when the bills could be considered by the full Senate.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014/Author: The PLS Reporter
Categories: News and Views

Municipal Pension Bill Could Be First Step in Broader Reform

House Bill 1581 introduced by Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) took center stage in a number of events Tuesday and could foreshadow the first step in broader pension reform.

The legislation would reform municipal pensions by moving them to a cash balance plan where benefit holders will have individual accounts that are added to in the fashion of a defined benefit plan and paid out in the form of a defined contribution plan. Under the bill the employer contribution would be 4.5 percent and employees would contribute either six percent or nine percent, depending on whether they receive Social Security payments.

According to Rep. Grove, the plan also provides for an avenue to pay off the unfunded liability and remove pensions from binding arbitration.

To find out if the legislation will pass in its current form and how it plays into broader pension reform plans, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014/Author: The PLS Reporter
Categories: News and Views

Gift Ban Legislation Takes Center Stage in Senate, House Will Wait on Legislative Push

Legislation banning public officers from taking cash gifts or their equivalents made its way through the Senate State Government Committee Monday afternoon with the legislation anticipated to be passed by the full Senate by the end of the week.

Senate Bill 1327 by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) amends the law regulating public officers to prohibit the acceptance of cash gifts or their equivalents from a lobbyist or someone with business before the Commonwealth.

Sen. Baker noted she has been interested in introducing the legislation for months, particularly since she represents the area affected by the “Kids-for-Cash” scandal where judges took cash in exchange for sentencing juveniles to facilities owned by those offering the bribes when the sentences were not warranted.

“I believe this bill is a straightforward, commonsense approach,” Sen. Baker stated.

She further noted the bill addresses situations where public officers receive things like “Kohl’s Cash” or other store rewards. “We wanted to ensure that some of those common sense things were also considered as part of the legislation,” she said.

Sen. Baker called this a first step in putting a fundamental principle into law.

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Monday, April 7, 2014/Author: The PLS Reporter
Categories: News and Views

INTIMIDATION TACTICS BILL CLEARS COMMITTEE, HEADS TO FULL SENATE

A loophole in the Pennsylvania Criminal Code allowing for violent intimidation tactics during collective bargaining negotiations is one step closer to being closed.

House Bill 1154, introduced by Rep. Ron Miller (R-York), passed the Senate Judiciary Committee today by unanimous vote. One amendment was adopted to the bill.

The bill as amended would close the loophole that allows certain harassment, stalking, and other intimidation tactics when they take place in conjunction with collective bargaining agreement negotiations. The amendment ensured that speech protected by the state and federal constitutions would remain protected under the crimes code; however, it also ensured that uses of weapons of mass destruction in such negotiations are completely illegal.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014/Author: The PLS Reporter
Categories: News and Views
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